|Publication number||US7383737 B1|
|Application number||US 11/693,202|
|Publication date||Jun 10, 2008|
|Filing date||Mar 29, 2007|
|Priority date||Mar 29, 2007|
|Publication number||11693202, 693202, US 7383737 B1, US 7383737B1, US-B1-7383737, US7383737 B1, US7383737B1|
|Inventors||Yingjie Lin, Carlos A. Urquidi, Francisco Romo|
|Original Assignee||Delphi Technologies, Inc|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (13), Referenced by (18), Classifications (5), Legal Events (4)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
The invention relates in general to sensors, and more particularly, to a capacitive pressure sensor.
In the automotive industry, it is frequently necessary to know the pneumatic or hydraulic pressure in a container or along a pressure line. Current technologies for pressure measurement sensors include piezoresistive technology implemented using thick film, thin film and MEMS, which involve, for example, building a strain gage on the top surface of a sensing membrane.
Additionally, it is known to employ capacitive technology, for example on MEMS and/or discrete membranes, as seen by reference to U.S. Pat. No. 5,656,780 entitled CAPACITIVE PRESSURE TRANSDUCER WITH AN INTEGRALLY FORMED FRONT HOUSING AND FLEXIBLE DIAPHRAGM issued to Park (“Park”). Park discloses a pressure transducer that includes a reference capacitor electrode and a variable capacitor electrode, both of which are electrically connected to a circuit. The variable capacitor electrode and a conductive surface of a diaphragm form a variable capacitor whose capacitance varies with changes in a fluid pressure in a transducer chamber. The design disclosed in Park, however, is rather complicated and includes an increased number of parts. Generally, the conventional art of capacitive sensing requires elaborate manufacturing processes and an increased number of parts to assemble the sensing element. Moreover, these sensors also have a shortcoming insofar as not being able to effectively seal high pressures. In addition, conventional sensing membranes are generally not compatible with a wide range of media (i.e., the fluid whose pressure is being sensed).
There is therefore a need for a sensor that minimizes or eliminates the shortcomings as set forth above.
A sensor in accordance with this invention provides a configuration that permits a simplified manufacturing and assembly process, overcoming the complicated and complex manufacturing process described in the Background. Additionally, embodiments of the present invention provide a configuration with a reduced number of parts—fewer parts that can fail thereby improving reliability. Additionally, the simplified configuration provides for a less expensive sensor. Further, a sensor according to the present invention embodies a mechanization that provides for greater flexibility is constructing the sensing diaphragm for different pressure ranges, media compatibility and material selection, all of which improve the cost effectiveness of the sensor.
A pressure sensor according to the invention includes a base-port, a transducer having a diaphragm and a sensing electrode body, and a pressure signal generating circuit. The base-port includes an opening configured to receive a fluid having a pressure to be measured. The diaphragm is made from electrically conductive material and has a base wall extending into a cylindrical, closed side wall which defines an interior of the diaphragm. The diaphragm is characterized by a piston shape, which has an inverted U-shape in cross-section. The diaphragm is arranged relative to the base-port such that the interior is in fluid communication with the fluid opening of the base-port to thereby form a fluid pressure cavity. The base wall of the diaphragm has a working surface facing the fluid pressure cavity and an opposing, flat sensing surface.
The sensing electrode body includes an insulating substrate (e.g., ceramic) having a center electrode and a ring electrode both facing toward but spaced apart from the sensing surface of the diaphragm by a spacer to form an air gap therebetween. The center electrode and the sensing surface form a first capacitor and the ring electrode and the sensing surface form a second capacitor. Changes in pressure in the fluid pressure cavity principally result in variations in the capacitance of the first capacitor, with perhaps some variation in the second capacitor. Finally, the pressure signal generating circuit is responsive to variations in the capacitance of the first and second capacitors, preferably measured in a differential mode, to generate a pressure signal indicative of the fluid pressure.
Other embodiments are presented, including those where the spacer comprises a step ring or an integral step on the diaphragm surface.
The present invention will now be described by way of example, with reference to the accompanying drawings:
With reference to
The base-port 12 may be fabricated using materials known in the art, for example, stainless steel or the like. Additionally, base-port 12 may include an integrally formed hexagonal nut or the like (best shown in
With reference to
The center electrode 40 and the ring electrode 42 face toward and are spaced apart from the sensing surface 36 of diaphragm 16 by a spacer 44 (shown in
With continued reference to
As shown in
Since the deformation of sensing surface 36 is in the form of a dome (i.e., center having the greatest deformation), the largest changes in capacitance will be expressed in the changed capacitance of first capacitor 48 (center electrode), while a much smaller change in capacitance will be measured on the second capacitor 50 (ring electrode). The differential capacitance approach exhibits good sensitivity with respect to changes in applied pressure.
With continued reference to
The deformation of diaphragm 16 is designed to behave according to specific requirements of the contemplated use, for example, the desired working pressure range, overpressure requirements, and media compatibility. The configuration of the present invention permits these and other requirements to be handily satisfied through appropriate material properties selection, among other criteria. Diaphragm 16 according to the invention, for example, may be designed based on finite element analysis (FEA) under stress/deflection criteria, as shown generally in
It should be noted that the dome deformation (described above) of sensing surface 36 does not yield a linear capacitance variation (i.e., linear as a function of applied pressure) of either capacitors 48, 50, or both of them in differential mode. Although the end measurement of differential capacitance is not linear, it can be characterized to follow, for example, a second order equation. However, circuit 20 may accordingly be configured so that the overall response of sensor 10, as a function of applied pressure, is linear, for example, to satisfy sensor linearity requirements.
In this regard,
Sensor 10 provides a structure with improved robustness or in other words tolerance to changes in a couple of key areas: (i) axial and radial movements and (ii) thermal effects. First, axial and radial movement of the transducer will have minimal if any effect on the differential capacitance (and thus pressure) measurements so long as the air gap between the center and ring electrodes 40, 42 and the sensing surface 36 does not change. This is due to the concentric abutting arrangement of the diaphragm 16, spacer 44 and sensing electrode body 18, forming transducer 14. Second, since the measurement of the capacitance is made in a differential mode (i.e., half bridge configuration) changes in the air gap due to material thermal expansion (and/or changes in the dielectric constant of any dielectric material disposed in the gap) will have a reduced impact on performance of sensor 10.
In addition to the simplified arrangement of the base-port, transducer and signal generating circuit, sensor 10 further includes other inventive features one of which is configured to hold the components of transducer 14 together and in place as a unit when assembled into well 72. Specifically, sensing electrode body 18 must be aligned with and tightly positioned against diaphragm 16 to establish spaced-apart electrodes to define capacitors, as described above (i.e., face-to-face contact of sensing electrodes to diaphragm to define the capacitive sensing cavity).
In accordance with another feature of the invention, spring ring 82, or alternatively a spring washer, may be used to maintain sensor 10 as an axially compact assembly through efficient use of axial space, but that also maintains a sufficient axially-applied force to hold sensing electrode body 18 in place against diaphragm 16 (i.e., face-to-face contact). Additionally, variations in dimensional (axial) stack up, for example, due to part-to-part manufacturing variations of the plastic housing and connector assembly 78, variations in the thickness of insulating substrate 38, variations in the diaphragm 16 and base-port 12, as well as variations arising from the joining method of the diaphragm to the base-port, all will not have a material affect on the performance of sensor 10 because such axial variations will be accommodated by and absorbed by the axial compression force of spring ring 82. Moreover, dimensional changes due to thermal expansion and/or external stresses on the plastic connector housing 78 are also absorbed by spring ring 82.
Spring ring 82 may be made from stainless steel metal or the like. Spring ring 82 is especially configured in size and shape to achieve a predetermined spring rate as required by the dimensions of sensor 10. Spring ring 82 may be of such material and/or be heat treated so as to maintain the desired force throughout the service life of sensor 10.
As to the size and shape of spring ring 82, as shown in
The inventive approach described herein for holding sensing electrode body 18 in place provides a robust structure configured to endure for the service life of sensor 10. Conventionally used components for performing the same function, such as resilient plastic ribs or rubber parts, can deteriorate over time and lose their ability to urge one part against another, as intended, thus resulting in deteriorated performance of the sensor in which it is included.
Hybrid circuit 84 includes center and ring electrodes 40, 42, which are formed on a first side 86 of the insulating (i.e., ceramic) substrate 38. Side 86 is the “bottom” side of substrate 38 in the orientation of
Preferably, hybrid circuit 84 is implemented on ceramic substrate 38 using thick film technology. For example, center and ring electrodes 40, 42 may be printed on side 86 using conductive inks, while PCB 88 can be printed, also using conductive inks, on the other side 90. Hybrid circuit 84 may also include interconnections printed as multilayer circuits to accommodate complex connections of circuits, small component footprints, and interconnections between multilayer circuits on both sides of substrate 38 using vias. Additionally, ceramic substrate 38 can be easily chapped to accommodate the design requirements, for example, such as a round shaped board in sensor 10.
Hybrid circuit 84 provides the advantage of leveraging existing circuit designs, component selections, etc. and straightforwardly implementing the same directly on the ceramic substrate 38 without the need for a separate board, lead frames or the like as used in conventional approaches. Hybrid circuit 84 also has the advantage of supporting the use of Flip Chip Package Technology for the electronics, which can help optimize real estate (area) usage and/or component placement. Moreover, hybrid circuit 84 also allows the circuitry to be placed closer to sensing electrodes 40, 42, which decreases noise and signal losses, thereby improving signal to noise ratio, improving sensitivity to measure capacitance and smaller parasitics that affect the performance of the circuit over temperature changes.
The foregoing implementation processes (e.g., printing conductive inks, electronic component placement and mounting, etc.) may be implemented using conventional processes known to those of ordinary skill in the art.
Specifically, a diaphragm in the form of a sheet metal cup 100 has the following advantages: (1) an increased diaphragm deflection (depending on the pressure range being measured) due to generally thinner wall construction; (2) allows for the usage of more ductile and softer materials, which eases manufacturing and thus lowers the cost of manufacturing as compared to machined diaphragm; (3) provides a reduced level of eccentricity and related problems; and (4) reduces or eliminates secondary machining procedures.
With continued reference to
In order to obtain the maximum diaphragm performance (maximum deflection and minimum stress ratio) there are some important considerations that are taken in account for the design: media compatibility, pressure range, material selection properties and geometry.
The deformation of diaphragm 100 is designed to behave according to the specific requirements of any desired particular use, such as the desired working pressure range, overpressure requirements and media compatibility. These requirements may be achieved by material properties selection and geometry configuration. Diaphragm 100 for any particular constructed embodiment may be designed based on finite element analysis (FEA) under stress/deflection criteria, as shown in
Finally, with continued reference to
Unless otherwise indicated, sensor 10′ may be constructed and operates in the same manner as sensor 10.
While the invention has been described in connection with what is presently considered to be the most practical and preferred embodiment, it is to be understood that the invention is not to be limited to the disclosed embodiments but, on the contrary, is intended to cover various modifications and equivalent arrangements included within the spirit and scope of the appended claims, which scope is to be accorded the broadest interpretation so as to encompass all such modifications and equivalent structures as is permitted under the law.
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|U.S. Classification||73/718, 73/724|
|Mar 29, 2007||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: DELPHI TECHNOLOGIES, INC., MICHIGAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:LIN, YINGJIE, MR.;URQUIDI, CARLOS A., MR.;ROMO, FRANCISCO, MR.;REEL/FRAME:019086/0548
Effective date: 20070328
|Jan 23, 2012||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|
|Jun 10, 2012||LAPS||Lapse for failure to pay maintenance fees|
|Jul 31, 2012||FP||Expired due to failure to pay maintenance fee|
Effective date: 20120610